Archive for the ‘Interrogation’ category

June 15 is Magna Carta Day

June 14, 2008

Happy birthday, Magna Carta!

On Sunday June 15, the Magna Carta will be 793 years old. This great historical document was signed by English King John on the field of Runnymede in 1215 under pressure from rebellious barons. The rights enshrined in the Magna Carta have been the most significant early influence on the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law today.

One of these constitutional protections which has its roots in the Magna Carta is the right to habeas corpus.

Habeas corpus was so important to the Founding Fathers that it was incorporated into the body of Article 1 of the Constitution itself, prior to addition of the Bill of Rights. The Founders did so because they understood that habeas corpus was essential to liberty and that liberty was the core value of the new nation. This consensus of the Founding Fathers of the necessity of having recourse to a writ of habeas corpus was based on their experience in dealing with an out-of-control monarch in the person of George III. (more…)


The APA reiterates their swiss cheese prohibition on torture

November 6, 2007

In August the American Psychological Association adopted an official position that allowed professional psychologists to work at detention facilities like Guantanamo — but not participate in torture. The policy was rife with swiss cheese loopholes. As a result there were protests from psychologists across the country that the APA should have the same absolute prohibitions on participation in torture that American medical doctors and psychoanalysts have. [See earlier posts on the resolution passed by the faculty at Earlham college]

But now, the APA confronts this situation by simply sending a letter to President Bush that says they really, really, really are opposed to torture (insert metaphorical foot stomp here) — and refers in circular fashion to their earlier swiss cheese statement prohibiting torture as if anything had really changed.

Furthermore the letter from APA President Sharon Stephens Brehm contains a troubling offer

to work with your Administration and the Congress to develop policies on interrogation that provide ethical and effective means to elicit information to prevent acts of violence.

Sounds like swiss cheese still. A loophole that would allow APA members even more opportunities to be co-opted into participation in torture — purely for research, of course. Lest we forget, there were those who used that excuse in Hitler’s Germany — and Stalin’s Russia — and perhaps today’s CIA.

An extended discussion of this matter and a copy of the entire letter from Sharon Brehm can be found at

Drip, drip, drip …

November 1, 2007

Since 1901 we have prosecuted enemy soldiers who employed waterboarding against our troops during the Spanish-American War. Part of the work at Nuremburg tribunals was to prosecute those who engaged in waterboarding and find them guilty of war crimes. It is a well-accepted principle of International Law that waterboarding is torture and that perpetrators should be tried for war crimes. Waterboarding is against the Geneva Convention. Waterboarding has been around since at least the Spanish Inquisition (which gave us the Iron Maiden and other grisly torture techniques).
But now we have a problem. We have a nominee for Attorney General who cannot be brought to equate waterboarding and torture. Mukasey says that torture is certainly illegal. But he’s not so sure about waterboarding — that is simply “repugnant”. I watched Mukasey play dodgeball with Patrick Leahy when Leahy tried to pin him down on waterboarding at recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Leahy said:

“I remain very concerned that Judge Mukasey finds himself unable to state unequivocally that waterboarding is illegal and below the standards and values of the United States,”

I wondered what kind of person would put tricky legalisms and fine distinctions between himself and simple human decency.

What kind of a country have we become that we even have to have this discussion? There was a time not so long ago when we as a nation didn’t have to hide behind a tissue of legalisms. We as a nation did not torture. Period.

This confirmation process is a kind of water torture for those of us who believe that every human being should be secure from cruel and inhumane treatment.

The eighth amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment” for those who have been guilty of  crime. There is a bedrock expectation embedded in the Constitution that there will be due process and a trial before any punishment is meted out.

Now we confront a nominee to the position of chief law enforcement officer who refuses to disavow waterboarding and other cruel and inhuman treatment being visited on those who have not even had a trial and have not been found guilty of any crime.

Mukasey has strayed so far from the tenets of the Constitution that there is no way he should become U.S. Attorney General. Surely the American people and the Constitution deserve better.

Psych prof calls for change in APA stance on interrogation

October 21, 2007

Pyschologists should not be co-opted into participating in torture. Psychological research indicates that individuals do not ordinarily become whistleblowers, but instead tend to act like sheep. Why is the American Psychological Association allowing its members to work at detention sites? Other professional associations like the AMA and the psychoanalyst group will not permit their members to be placed in this situation.

EC Psych Profs Call for APA to
Change Stance on Interrogation

Oct. 4, 2007

Michael R. Jackson

Michael R. Jackson, associate professor of psychology at Earlham, invites colleagues from across the nation to join his department’s faculty and sign the Resolution Regarding Participation by Psychologists in Interrogations in Military Detention Centers.

RICHMOND, Ind. — The psychology department at Earlham College has passed a resolution calling for a change in the interrogations policy of the American Psychological Association (APA). Breaking new ground by taking this national leadership role, the Resolution Regarding Participation by Psychologists
in Interrogations in Military Detention Centers
is the first of its kind issued by an American college or university academic unit. (more…)

Getting professional psychologists out of the torture business

October 21, 2007

The role of psychologists at sites like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib is called into question by a psychologist at a small liberal arts college in the Midwest. Earlham College is a Quaker school and is aligned with traditional Quaker values such as peace and conflict resolution without violence.

Earlham College Psychology Department calls for APA interrogations policy change

September 28th, 2007 <!–Stephen Soldz–>

The Psychology Department at Earlham College (in Richmond, Indiana) has broken new ground by passing a resolution calling upon change in the American Psychological Association to change its policy regarding participation of psychologists in interrogations. (more…)